Let’s take it as a given that you’re interested in investing in the cloud and probably have started the process already (after all, if you weren’t you wouldn’t be reading a blog about it!). As this is the case, you’re likely planning on using the cloud to bring value to your organisation. But have you asked yourself how you’ll leverage the most value from your cloud investment?
Figure one: Visualisation of a network organisation (could be a department in a large organisation as well), all dots have a domain owner
In my experience, the best way to get the most value possible from your cloud investments is to become a ‘network organisation’. This means looking at which elements of your business you add value to by doing them in-house — and outsourcing the rest (consumerisation). Essentially, it’s all about delivering output to the next link in the chain. And as the network constantly changes, flexibility and versatility in this consumerisation is crucial. By using the cloud to fill these areas of your business, you can get the most value from cloud solutions and drive cloud adoption in your organisation to the right level.
The next question we need to answer is: what’s the process for figuring this all out?
To decide where the cloud can improve your business — and to make a start on improving cloud adoption — you need in-depth knowledge of your current technologies, processes and teams. Here are the three areas of your business that you need to audit, to know whether you’re ready to work as a network organisation, as well as how cloud solutions will work best for you.
Look at which technologies you have in place — this could be servers, applications, systems, even cloud solutions that you’ve already implemented. This will help you decide which elements you can move to the cloud, and which cloud model you need. For example, once you know that a certain application needs a high level of security, you’ll make provision for that in your strategy. The flexibility and versatility you need should be facilitated by technology that supports the use of multiple cloud solutions. These cloud solutions should be interchangeable.
It’s also important at this stage to categorise how mature your cloud adoption is currently. You can do this by categorising cloud adoption in your current organisation into: ad hoc, opportunistic, repeatable, managed and optimised.
As well as ascertaining which processes are involved and could be made more efficient with the cloud, the important element to consider here is risk management. What effect will cloud adoption have on your processes? Risk management is the most important ‘process’ to manage in a network organisation — let that process decide how you work with the other processes (or not). You need to constantly ask yourself if the services you’re consuming match the risk profile. Identify who is responsible, conduct a proper data classification and look at what the impact versus probability of the risk per cloud model is. Once you know, you can use this to inform your strategy and investments.
What about the budget? Who pays? As I’ve mentioned, the domain owner is responsible for delivering the output — so they should have choice in the cloud services supporting that. Preferably, the domain owner should have budget for buying cloud services. When the budget is centrally managed, it can be difficult for most organisations to change this. The central organisation should then provide clear guidelines for using the budget — although the domain owner should be the one deciding.
Audit your teams to discover which people have the skills to work in a cloud-optimised organisation and identify the skills gap. An employee with the ideal level of competence would have skills in: supplier management, DevOps, API, migration, continuity between services and WAN monitoring. They should also have equal experience in: technology, operations, vision and strategy, business expertise, and governance and security.
By examining and aligning these three areas, you’ll put your organisation in a strong position to create an optimised cloud strategy, and pick the cloud products that meet your needs.
Here’s a list of potential models, to give you an idea of what’s available. The cloud solutions the domain owner can choose from fall into these categories. Technology is available to integrate and automate the business processes around it, facilitating interchangeability:
Hopefully this blog has given you a good idea of where to optimise your journey toward the cloud.